LOLA Coastal Mexican has Been Fully Refreshed

LOLA Coastal Mexican, which jump-started the now-thriving LoHi neighborhood’s growth when it opened there 13 years ago, has undergone a full remodel of both their interior and their menu.

Charred Octopus

Charred Octopus

The remodel was executed by one of Hollywood’s most sought-after interior designers, Kari Whitman. “We used organic materials such as twine, bamboo fabrics, and earth-friendly lighting to transport you to coastal Mexico,” Kari says. Oceanic blue tones, brass lights, and large-format photography from internationally acclaimed artist Roberto Dutesco complete the vibe.

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Surf & Turf Tostada

Surf & Turf Tostada

The new menu is created by LOLA’s new Chef/Partner, Javier Placencia, internationally recognized as Baja’s culinary ambassador and as the inventor of Baja-Med cuisine, a fusion of the culinary traditions of Baja California and the Mediterranean. Javier also runs restaurants in California and his San Diego restaurant Bracero Cocina de Raíz was nominated for a 2016 James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant. Javier says, “I saw how the food scene in Denver was growing, and that got me excited to share the good cuisine of Mexico here.”


Javier’s new menu focuses on ingredients and preparations unique to Baja, incorporating the fresh seafood the region is known. In addition, Javier’s food features Asian and Mediterranean ingredients, including ponzu and olives, which are entrenched in Baja’s immigrant-influenced cuisine. Executive Chef Sheila Lucero will oversee LOLA’s  kitchen and continue the sustainable seafood sourcing standards she’s known for at Jax Fish House. Together these two chefs have created and executed deliciously fresh, flavorful and colorful dishes. We especially loved the Surf & Turf Tostada with ahi tuna and beef machaca and the variety of colorful cocktails.

Scallop Tiradito with a Smoke & Mirrors cocktail

Scallop Tiradito with a Smoke & Mirrors cocktail

From dinner to brunch to happy hour, LOLA offers a taste of Mexico’s coast right here in the Mile High City. For more information and to make reservations please contact LOLA at (720) 570-8686, 1575 Boulder Street, Denver, CO 80211. For more information, please visit http://www.loladenver.com

Photos by Tiffany Candelaria @TCdoesFnB

Bremen’s Wine & Tap Brings Seasonal Fine Dining to LoHi

The Ultra5280 crew had the opportunity to dine at the new LoHi restaurant Bremen’s Wine & Tap in anticipation of their new Fall/Winter menu that debuted Monday, October 23. We were very impressed with the variety of dishes, the quality of food and flavors, and the overall presentation, complete with drink pairings. While savoring, we got to know new Executive Chef Isabel Ranney, Bremen’s eco-friendly practices, and learned the restaurant is entirely woman-owned!  Bremen’s Wine & Tap features handcrafted, seasonal, American cuisine, craft cocktails, local beers, and an extensive wine list.

“The inspiration behind the menu is based on the seasonality of the produce and of the herbs and spices that are beneficial to our bodies at this time of year,” said Chef Isabel. “Also, I cook food that I like to eat. The fall menu includes soul-warming dishes that are perfect for the cool weather. The new items are a play on comfort foods that people crave when the weather is cold, but they are refined.”  The new menu includes a Seasonal Butcher Board, Kale and Beet Salad, a Farro Bowl, Duck Breast, and a Prime Rib Sandwich. Especially fun for the season are their Pumpkin Coconut Chai Martini and the Earl Grey Old Fashion.

Maple Duck Breast

Prior to becoming executive chef, Chef Isabel was the sous chef at Bremen’s and previously at the Magnolia Hotel. She has held a number of positions across Colorado and in Washington since starting in the restaurant industry when she was 15-years-old. Aside from her spectacular, seasonal dishes, we love her commitment to the environment, ensuring good practices in both the front and back of the house. She has spearheaded the restaurant’s composting program, aims to use every ingredient in three different ways, and always works to improve their carbon footprint. Chef Isabel is a certified herbalist and uses this knowledge to incorporate ingredients that are beneficial to our health and energy per the season, “The lamb shank uses elderberries and rosehips which are packed with antioxidants and are antiviral, so they help people’s immune systems without them even realizing because of how delicious it tastes.” She also focuses on growing relationships with farmers and vendors to bring the best ingredients into the restaurant and its guests. What a woman, and what a chef!

Butcher Board

Both Chef Isabel and owner Dina Castillo have truly taken the time to make their dining experience as environmentally friendly and Colorado based as possible. Chef Isabel serves her Butcher Board on a rustic wood board from Colorado beetle-killed trees, and picks fresh produce and herbs for a farm called Rebel Farms located right here in Denver. They have a strong passion for supporting local businesses, so at Bremen’s you will see local beers and wines from all around the state, including right here in Denver. While digging into the dishes, we also learned the name Bremen’s was created from a favored children’s book that was written about the city of Bremen, Germany.

Whether you’re in the neighborhood, live on the other side of town, or are just visiting Denver, Bremen’s is a must visit within the thriving culinary scene here in Denver. With their wide variety of dishes and drinks, there is something for everyone. Bremen’s is open for dinner Monday - Saturday, happy hour daily from 4 to 6 p.m. with lady’s wine night on Wednesdays, and brunch on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 11 a.m. Read on for a detailed description of the dishes we devoured and photographed.  http://www.bremenswinetap.com/

Asparagus Tartare

Asparagus Pear Tartare: This dish is a play off traditional tartare, featuring raw asparagus finely diced, mixed with red onion, scallions, avocados, pears, pear-herb vinaigrette, and surrounded by heirloom grape tomatoes, tangerine oil and topped with crispy asparagus ribbons. Served with house made lavash rubbed with jalapeno agave syrup.

Butcher Board: Chef’s choice (changes bi weekly) of charcuterie and cheese, house made grain mustard and pickled vegetables. We tasted Prosciutto di Parma – aged 18 months, High West Whiskey Salami, Ossau-Iraty (French sheep’s milk cheese, dates back to one of the first cheese ever made), and the aged English Cheddar. Also served on this beautiful beetle kill board from Colorado, are house-pickled, seasonal vegetables. Boards come with toasted sourdough bread from local bakery, Hinman’s, “34 Degrees” crackers and salted almond crackers.

Maple Leaf Duck Breast: House made potato gnocchi that are seared to create a crispy outer glaze. The gnocchi get tossed with a wild mushroom and leek mixture deglazed with white wine and finished with butter and fried sage.

Sea Scallops with Risotto

Fresh Catch of the Day: Three pan-seared sea scallops served atop a bacon and corn risotto, topped with a red wine vinegar reduction and fried mint. (This was divine!)

Isabel’s Seasonal Crumble: Tequila-soaked pears topped with Bremen’s secret pecan crumble, served with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream.

Words by Tiffany Candelaria        Photos by Samantha Bliss

New PALEO Cafe Will Please the Whole Family

Its no surprise the Denver food scene is becoming more and more health conscious as we are such a fit, foodie, on-trend city. As Denver expands so too do the amazing variety of dining options and new to the scene is Just BE Kitchen in the Confluence Park/LoHi neighborhood. Just BE Kitchen is pretty unique however for a few reasons.

The main standout is that everything on the menu is PALEO, which means no gluten, grains of any kind, or refined sugars! They’ve also designed the place to inspire presence and mindful eating with calm colors and quotes hung on the walls. Everything on the menu is healthy and delicious, offering salads, burgers, hashes and sweet treats like cookies, muffins and “milk” shakes! The other main difference is their hours are 7am – 3pm daily and feels more like a café with their order-up counter, coffee offerings and cozy/cute interior.

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Given those hours the menu at Just Be is a bit breakfast-centric with many egg and (coconut milk) yogurt dishes, but also offers a few salads, a cheeseburger, green chili and a … Meatzza! The Meatzza is their paleo take on a pizza with a pasture-raised, grass-fed pork sausage patty taking the place of normal dough crust. A sugar-free, house-made tomato sauce and a bacon pineapple jam are spread on the base. To top, they fry fresh kale in tallow and sprinkle nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. I hear it is every bit as indulgent as it sounds!

We went for breakfast and of course tried as much as we could. We started with the Chia coconut yogurt topped with a great grainless granola and berries that tasted light and creamy with the only sugar coming from the berries. Then we had a lovely seasonal salad called Enchanted with arugula, pickled onion, roasted beets, their granola and almond feta. This was really tasty with all the ingredients perfectly coated by the almond feta and vinaigrette.

For our main dishes we ordered their burrito and the seasonal veggie hash. Both were delightful and filling without leaving us weighed down or bloated. The burrito’s tortilla was very much like a regular flour tortilla, except better because it’s free of grains, refined sugars and dairy! It was soft and doughy but dense enough to keep the hearty fillings wrapped inside (even after a night in my fridge it stayed put together and as good as when it was served). The shredded sweet potatoes in both dishes were so flavorful and sweetened up the basic eggs in the burrito, along with the savory, juicy sausage inside. Add a side of their pork green chili and it was the tastiest healthy burrito I’ve eaten!  The veggie hash was beautiful, seemed much healthier, was full of flavorful and texture, making it an amazing meal for a vegetarian. We topped ours with a poached egg shown at top.

In addition to their menu being gluten-free, so many of their dishes are easily made vegetarian, making it a really wonderful place for friends or couples with different dietary needs to eat together. Their manager explains, “Our goal is to cater to many different food sensitivities with a very modular menu.” There’s even a yummy kids’ menu priced at only $6. For drinks you’ve got bullet coffees and lattes, espresso, fresh juice, Kombucha, and natural sodas. There’s even a “bone broth bar” with 48-hour broth that comes with a handful of toppings to choose from. This place is seriously a unique gem in the Denver dining scene and we hope you find the time to treat yourself to something satisfyingly delicious and nutritious!

Lifestyle | When Williams & Graham Took a Vaca, Denver got a San Francisco Treat

This past weekend from May 5th to May 8th the team from Denver’s Speakeasy, Williams & Graham took their annual staff retreat and let award-winning San Francisco bar, Trick Dog takeover.

Our first thought was, “I wonder how long the wait will be?” We decided to give it a try anyway Friday evening and walked in ready to prove to the door staff we were a hip, sophisticated group. We began spouting how we knew about the takeover and were familiar with and excited about Trick Dog in hopes of upping our chances of getting past that revolving bookcase. Turns out, we didn’t need to prove our cool, the two ladies at the door explained they were letting everybody in, no wait list, no line, just first come, first served.

We eagerly made our way down the stairs to a dim room filled with others ‘in the know’ and even managed to score a booth! Their menus were large file folders labeled “Top Secret” with tabs along each side stating different conspiracy cases. Each page listed the case, the ingredients, and the “declassified” information about the case, which was mostly blacked out. All were interesting, hand crafted $13 cocktails along with a small menu of starters, entrees, and a few desserts.

We took turns reading the crazy ingredients and conspiracy theories aloud and decided to order the “Biggie and Tupac”, “Crop Circle” and “Grassy Knoll” along with some pretzel bites. We were pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of our waiter, who offered to answer questions, made suggestions, was adequately attentive, and even joked around with us! (Not sure about you, but this was quite a contrast to some of our previous interactions in this Speakeasy.)

The drinks were pleasant and surprising as well. For example, the Crop Circle was composed of Japanese whiskey, barley water, and reishi mushroom syrup. (We’re an experimental group). The Biggie and Tupac was a blend of Reposado tequila, Sherry, vermouth, two teas and honey with one of those fancy balls of ice. The Grassy Knoll was more like Bermuda grass with sticky thorns than a soft winter rye, mixing jerk spice and lime with rum and scotch. All three went down too easy and were not as large as you’d hope for $13, but we figured as much. Looking back, I wish we had tried more but we had enjoyed the hour we spent so much we were satisfied with calling it a night. I can’t remember what type of music they play normally, but Trick Dog was bumpin’ with Oldies, Motown and Disco. We were literally dancing in our seats. . . maybe the drinks were worth their weight after all.

Tiffany Candelaria

Lifestyle | "Island of Awesome" New F&B

Along with our growing population, Denver's food and beverage scene is really exploding, not only in quantity but in quality too. It's no longer a matter of driving across town for a great restaurant or heading downtown for a day of on-foot, food and booze hopping. Now, nearly every neighborhood in Denver has its own collection of distinct and delicious options. For example, the Highlands have become known for having an organic, progressive, on-trend restaurant scene. Unsurprisingly enough, this neighborhood, and its reputation, continue to spread its roots. Follow me to the "Island of Awesome" as described by co-owner Lauren Bailey of Postino Lo-Hi. This "Island of Awesome" is one triangle-shaped block at roughly 17th Street, Erie, and 32nd Avenue where three brand new restaurants sprouted this September: Postino Wine Bar, Recess Beer Garden, and the Occidental.   

Postino

Postino

Postino, a Phoenix, AZ favorite, branched out to Denver this month re-opening the former Denver BookBinding Company built in 1962. The craftily reconstructed space tells the story of the building's history with a warm, cozy interior, a book wall and colored glass light fixtures. And for those Denver view snobs- a big, bright outdoor deck takes advantage of the never disappointing downtown Denver skyline.

Lounge around with some fine wine.

Lounge around with some fine wine.

All of their locations feature an eclectic yet approachable wine list alongside simply satisfying food sources paired with local ingredients. In addition to the extensive wine list, Postino has become known in Arizona for their supped up bruschetta's, with 11 different versions to choose from; including one seasonal selection and one with gluten free bread upon request. The "choose 4 bruschetta" dish is an adventurous  and delicious way to try new flavors and share your thoughts (and food) with friends. The menu also has a variety of starters, including: salads, paninis, desserts and rotating wine and beer. Looking for a bargain? On Monday's and Tuesday's after 8pm Postino's puts on a special pairing of bruschetta and a bottle of wine for only $20! And for the earlier eaters, they have $5 pitchers of beer or glasses of wine before 5pm.

Recess Beer Garden Outdoor Area

Recess Beer Garden Outdoor Area

Recess Beer Garden opens up right as school lets out on weekdays at 3pm and at 10am Saturday & Sunday's. They feature both a large indoor space with booth seating and a wrap around bar stretching the entire length of the inside as well as a spacious outdoor beer garden as their name alludes to. The beer garden's design of scattered tables, gravel underfoot, fire pits, and games such as corn hole, hula hoops and hopscotch encourage us adults to enjoy our own version of recess. One equipped with strong drinks and nostalgic memories of playgrounds past. We visited a couple weeks ago for some night time fun and as one could have expected, the bar was packed with tons of patrons who had the same idea. People were unleashing their competitive spirit while playing a various assortment of schoolyard games (obviously not without a drink in hand!).  We would have liked to dueled it out on the playground as well, but there were only two sets of corn hole boards, two chalked on hopscotch drawings and a few free hula hoops . . . which only entertained the people standing around us. Just more incentive to get there early!

Chili tots, beef sliders, and green chili artichoke dip.

Chili tots, beef sliders, and green chili artichoke dip.

As a rule of thumb, recess is normally accompanied by some sort of snack-whether that be lunch or tots-it was always something to look forward to. At Recess Beer Garden there is a nice assortment of American staples like burgers, mac & cheese, ribs, salads and starters. We had the chili tots, beef sliders and green chili artichoke dip with a Breckenridge Brewery Autumn Ale. All of which were tasty but made us wish we had the metabolism of a kid again.

Recess Bar's Beer Menu

Recess Bar's Beer Menu

Their beer selection is substantial, but not as eclectic as we would expect given the word beer is in the name. But, we believe they plan/hope to expand the list of Colorado and "Beyond" beers. For those looking for something a little stronger, or lighter depending on how you look at it, there are a couple wines and a few cocktail staples as well.

Occidental

Occidental

The third stop on this "Island of Awesome" is William & Graham's new offshoot Occidental. This is a much more laid back, punk rock style bar featuring plenty of can, bottle, and draft beers, classic cocktails and a handful of special concoctions that highlight the award-winning bartender Sean Kenyon's creativity and class.

Kenyon himself was in New York when we visitied, but we enjoyed having bearded-bartender Brandon mixing up our cocktails for the evening. We tried three of the House specials and for our last drink we asked Brandon to come up with something semisweet using their homemade Ginger Beer. This resulted in a crushed ice tall glass of Ginger Beer, Vodka, pineapple and lemon syrup and bitters that went down way too fast. Before this we had shared a Paul Collins, Sailin' On, TV Party and Sonic Reducer (had we had a third person, or it been a weekend- we would have tried them all for you). The staff brought out little circus bags of roasted whole peanuts for each group at the bar to enjoy, which helped us imbibers to keep on drinkin' a little bit longer. Every drink was different and exciting. The price was on point given the reputation and quality of the establishment. 

With winter's inevitable arrival almost upon us, our internal clock is telling us to couple down, cozy up and pack on a few pounds for the chillier months ahead. And in our opinion, there is no better place to do this than at Denver's own, "Island Of Awesome". Grab a date and a plate and hunker down, because it's going to be a long winter. 

www.postinowinecafe.com    www.recessbeergarden.com   

-Tiffany Candelaria